October 28, 2020

Statement from Richard Olsen, NSW State Secretary, Transport Workers’ Union

The Transport Workers’ Union remains angry at the brutal treatment of Australian Women at the hands of Qatari authorities on the 2nd of October.

Regardless of what occurred at Doha airport no woman should be forced to undergo the terrifying experience they endured. The Australian Federal Government and the Qatari Government have failed in their duty of care to all Australians who were on board the Qatar Airways flights.

The actions of the Authorities in Qatar provided these women no choice, no guidance on their rights and no chance to consent to the invasive examinations they were subjected to in the back of an Ambulance.

The TWU have spoken out on behalf of these women to ensure their voice is heard. We acknowledge the strong voices in support of the women involved from Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong and the Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally and the Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

We acknowledge the progress made today, in that the Qatari government has issued a statement of regret over the incident and has announced an investigation.

However, it has been three weeks since the incidents occurred. We utterly condemn the length of time the Federal Government took to get off its hands and act on this gross violation of Australian Citizens. It is abundantly clear that they got busy on the issue when the media found out and Government Ministers faced questions at Senate Estimates hearings.

The TWU Branch Committee of Management will meet tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss this issue and the Union will monitor the situation, both the Qatari investigation and the actions of the Australian Government. The union will continue to press the Australian Government on the level of pressure they place on the Qatari Government.

Transport workers have expressed strong feelings about the issue and the abhorrence on the violations involved. TWU members have previously taken action against the government owned Qatar Airways on human rights violations, which include gender discrimination and homophobia against workers, and they stand ready to take action against this airline.

Aviation workers have endured a difficult year with their jobs put at risk and the future of the industry in doubt. They have been let down by the Federal Government on its lack of action on a plan for aviation and by the likes of Qantas, which despite receiving much public financial support, is moving to axe and outsource 2,500 ground workers.

Aviation workers will continue to fight for what is right in our industry, whether it is decent jobs in Australia or human rights of workers and passengers on the flights entering our country.


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